Who’s still brewing Belgian-style ales and what’s your favorite recipe?

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shoreman

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Here in the US it’s getting harder and harder to get your hands on Belgian or Belgian-style beers. Shelton Brothers closing has had an impact on availability and sadly Ommegang isn’t brewing Belgian-styles anymore. I’ve brewed them for many years and am about to bottle a Blonde based off of St. Feuillien Blonde.

Some of my favorite recipes I keep in rotation:

Small Saison - Pils, wheat, rye, crystal20, sugar - noble hops, yeast.

Pale Ale - Pils, wheat, biscuit, sugar - noble hops, La Chouffe yeast

What’s your favorite Belgian-style recipe? Post a photo if you have it.



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CascadesBrewer

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I am a massive fan. It is always disappointing to see that a craft brewery has a Triple, Golden, Quad, etc. on tap...only to get some thick and sweet mess that lacks complexity. Unibroue stuff is pretty solid most times (though they tend to lean a bit on spices). Many of the Belgian imports go for $8 per 0.33L bottle, or $24 for a 4-pack.

I am a big fan of Dubbel...some complexity of a Quad but "only" in the 7% ABV range. I have been trying to dig into Saisons over the past year or two. I have mostly been using a simple grain bill with some rye, and playing with different yeasts and hops. Saisons are such great beers that are dirt cheap to make.

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They do make IPA's now but they still have some of their classics, like my favorite, Hennepin.

 

TheMadKing

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A little of my reasons: I spent years hating belgian style beers because I had only ever had American examples. Then I tried an unpronouncable Belgian trappist ale in Europe and it changed my whole perspective

I LOVE belgian beers when they are perfectly balanced (think fresh duvel). Sadly most versions we find on the U.S. are working as hard as they can to maximize yeast expression and it makes these beers awful to my palate. So if anyone has a good recipe that comes out with a delicate balance of esters, hops, and malt I'd love to try it.

My few attempts have ended up not being terribly good, and I even got a diastaticus infection in my fermenter from Belle saison 🙄
 

Gusso

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Oh, and today I'm going to keg a Tripel (my all-time favorite style). I simplified my old recipe to 14# pils, 1 flaked barley, 8oz biscuit, 8 oz aromatic, and 2# sugar. For spices, .5 oz of corriander, ginger, and orange peel, and I used Abbaye dry yeast. Hopped with Magnum and Styrian Goldings. OG 1.090, FG 1.009.
 
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shoreman

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They do make IPA's now but they still have some of their classics, like my favorite, Hennepin.

I hope they had a change of heart but I haven’t seen any of those beers locally for a while.
 
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shoreman

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A little of my reasons: I spent years hating belgian style beers because I had only ever had American examples. Then I tried an unpronouncable Belgian trappist ale in Europe and it changed my whole perspective

I LOVE belgian beers when they are perfectly balanced (think fresh duvel). Sadly most versions we find on the U.S. are working as hard as they can to maximize yeast expression and it makes these beers awful to my palate. So if anyone has a good recipe that comes out with a delicate balance of esters, hops, and malt I'd love to try it.

My few attempts have ended up not being terribly good, and I even got a diastaticus infection in my fermenter from Belle saison 🙄
I hear ya, also lack of attenuation and not high enough carbonation are always other issues.

Start with a really simple grain bill, use sugar like d-90 and mash for attenuation- you want to end up sub 1.010 FG. Always bottle condition too, hard to keg these beers. Ardennes yeast is super friendly and easy to use.

Brew Like A Monk is an amazing book and has good recipes.
 
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I started brewing La Petite Orange early in my brewing hobby. I typically infuse the orange zest from 4-6 oranges in about 1/3 cup of vodka for about a week and then pour the whole thing into the fermenter a few days prior to racking. I believe the recipe calls for granular sugar now, but I've always used candy syrup.
 

CaddyWampus

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I’ve brewed a “monks beer”/Trappist single, dubbel, and I even messed around with a mixed ferm saison that I wasn’t totally happy with. I do love a good Belgian beer though. My absolute favorite I’ve ever had was a Westvleteren 8. Yes, I liked it more than the 12.

I generally brew the Averagely Perfect Dubbel and experiment with yeast. My favorite has easily been the Wyeast Unibroue strain. It really hit all the right notes for me.
 

CascadesBrewer

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I generally brew the Averagely Perfect Dubbel and experiment with yeast. My favorite has easily been the Wyeast Unibroue strain. It really hit all the right notes for me.
It looks like a pretty solid recipe (Belgian/French Ales - Averagely Perfect Dubbel - AG (w/extract + steeped grains option)).

The Unibroue strain (Wyeast 3864) is only a special release thing, right? I know that Wyeast 3787 and White Labs WLP530 are supposed to be the Westmalle strain, but I feel like I have gotten a lot more character out of WLP530 than 3787. The 3 batches I did with 3787 were all very "clean" and plain where the WLP530 batches were wonderful. WLP500 is nice, but just a bit too much cherry flavor for me. My recent Blond with Lallemand Abbaye shows potential.

My personal goal has been to brew a great Dubbel with no specialty sugar, and to brew a great Quad with no Special B. (So my Dubbel has Special B and my Quad has D-180.) This is partially because I brew the Dubbel more often and I don't want to be tied to spending $8 on a 1 lb bag of syrup (vs $5 for a 2.5 lb jug of Turbinado or Demerara sugar at Walmart) and partially because I am not sure how many Belgian breweries actually use Special B in their beer. Making my own dark syrup is somewhere on my todo list. I might try a batch of Dubbel with D-90.
 

CaddyWampus

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It looks like a pretty solid recipe (Belgian/French Ales - Averagely Perfect Dubbel - AG (w/extract + steeped grains option)).

The Unibroue strain (Wyeast 3864) is only a special release thing, right? I know that Wyeast 3787 and White Labs WLP530 are supposed to be the Westmalle strain, but I feel like I have gotten a lot more character out of WLP530 than 3787. The 3 batches I did with 3787 were all very "clean" and plain where the WLP530 batches were wonderful. WLP500 is nice, but just a bit too much cherry flavor for me. My recent Blond with Lallemand Abbaye shows potential.

My personal goal has been to brew a great Dubbel with no specialty sugar, and to brew a great Quad with no Special B. (So my Dubbel has Special B and my Quad has D-180.) This is partially because I brew the Dubbel more often and I don't want to be tied to spending $8 on a 1 lb bag of syrup (vs $5 for a 2.5 lb jug of Turbinado or Demerara sugar at Walmart) and partially because I am not sure how many Belgian breweries actually use Special B in their beer. Making my own dark syrup is somewhere on my todo list. I might try a batch of Dubbel with D-90.
It’s funny how people can have such differing experiences with the same ingredients! I felt that WLP 530 was too plain but the 3787 gave me what I was truly looking for.

Interesting take on the Dubbel without sugar. I actually don’t brew these too awfully often so a little D-90 and D-180 don’t hurt too much. All this talk of Belgians has me realizing that it’s about time to get on with brewing my quad/dark strong. Pils and D-180 only.
 

Holden Caulfield

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What’s your favorite Belgian-style recipe?
Belgian styles with no banana from yeast and minimal dark fruit from dark candi syrups. So blonde styles made with certain yeasts. Westmalle Tripel is amazing.

Below is a snapshot of a slightly lower alcohol Westmalle Tripel clone that I recently brewed and it turned out great. Used the pitching rate noted in Brew-Like-a-Monk It attenuated a few points lower than target, so next time I will shorten the beta amylase mash time. Also, due to the high gravity and no sparge water (step mashed required full volume), my mash efficiency was lower than expected so will plan for this next time.

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MaxStout

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I do like a good Witbier. Last one I brewed was this:

5.5 gallons

5 lbs Belgian pilsner
5 lbs. flaked wheat
1 lb. flaked oats
1/4 lb acid malt
1 tsp amylase enzyme in the mash (Belgian pilsner I used had a low diastatic power--lots of adjuncts). You could sub German pilsner for more DP.
Perle hops to about 20-25 IBU
2 oz. fresh orange peel last 10 minutes of boil
3/4 oz. crushed Indian coriander seed last 10 minutes of boil
Mangrove Jack's M21

Edit: adding pic
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CascadesBrewer

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I recently kegged a batch of this recipe Belgian Blond: Style Profile - Brew Your Own. Well, I used a mix of Northern Brewer and Hersbrucker hops and I fermented it with Lallemand Abbaye. It is really a wonderful Belgian "gateway" beer. Just enough Belgian yeast character to be noticeable, but still with some grain and hop character. I kept fermentation temps in the upper 60F range during active fermentation to keep yeast character in check.

I am interesting in trying Lallemand Abbaye more.
 

CaddyWampus

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I recently kegged a batch of this recipe Belgian Blond: Style Profile - Brew Your Own. Well, I used a mix of Northern Brewer and Hersbrucker hops and I fermented it with Lallemand Abbaye. It is really a wonderful Belgian "gateway" beer. Just enough Belgian yeast character to be noticeable, but still with some grain and hop character. I kept fermentation temps in the upper 60F range during active fermentation to keep yeast character in check.

I am interesting in trying Lallemand Abbaye more.
I used Abbaye in my Trappist blond/single. It actually came out quite nice as the style is a bit lighter for a Belgian any way. I really need to brew that up again.
 

beersk

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I like a good Belgian blond or Belgian Single, somewhere between 5 and 6%, mostly pilsner malt, a pound or so of turbinado, Mt. Hood hops to maybe 20-25IBU, and a good fruity Belgian yeast. I'm not super into the really phenolic yeasts, but I really do like the Wyeast Belgian Ardenne.
But St. Bernardus ABT12 might be my all time favorite Belgian beer. I drink a 750mL bottle every year on New Year's Eve.
 
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I just used Abbaye in my Blonde bottled yesterday, fermented it in the mid 70’s, had good attenuation, ended up at 5.25% ABV, easy enough to use, hopefully will come through as a good dry Belgian yeast flavor-wise
 

SRJHops

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While I spent a good two years brewing NEIPA's, I pretty much ONLY brew Belgians these days, largely because of what the OP said: they are hard to find -- but oh so tasty!

I made my first Belgian two years ago, a tripel. It turned out great, and since then I've brewed most of the styles: Blond, Golden Strong, Dubbel, Quad, Cherry Sour (faux lambic kriek), Saison.

I could probably just brew Saisons and be pretty happy. The style is so wide open. In the fermenter now is one with pilsner, spelt, Vienna, and a bit of rye. I used Pacific Jade for a late addition - looking forward to seeing if it adds some citrus and spice.

My secret weapon for my Saisons and most of my Belgians is Safale Be-134. I toss it in with whatever slurry I'm using. (I'm a big believer in a healthy pitch.)

If I had to choose one Belgian, it might be a blond. As a previous post said, it's such a nice Belgian beer, with the yeast character and some malt backbone. Mine has Pilsner, Munich, and a touch of biscuit. Also cane sugar. (I use sugar in pretty much all of my Belgians; often Turbinado for the darker ones.)

My go-to slurry yeast is the Ardennes (La CHOUFFE) for most of my Belgians (except Wits and Saisons).

My least favorite is one that so many people love: Golden Strong. To my palate, it often drinks like an imperial pilsner. Certainly OK if you like that sort of thing, but I'm looking for more fruit and spice - and a bit more malt. (I know it's heretical, but while it looks great and is impressive in many ways, I find Duvel to be a bit bland.)
 

CascadesBrewer

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Golden Strong. To my palate, it often drinks like an imperial pilsner.
To some people the idea "Wow! This does not drink like a 9.5% beer!!" is a good thing. To me, if I am committing myself to that much alcohol, I want a beer that slaps me on the face and lets me know it is a big beer!

I could probably just brew Saisons and be pretty happy.
Yep! I have brewed a few batches using Citra hops. It was just enough to give a little bit of a citrus character. There is a wide range of options for such a simple beer. Be-134 is on my list to try out. Belle Saison just does not hit the same mark as WLP565 for me.

The attenuation of Belgian yeasts can still catch me off guard. I am used to thinking that 1.055 and 1.060 OG beers are fairly sessionable, but when they ferment out close to 1.000, you can quickly end up with over 7%!
 

SRJHops

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To some people the idea "Wow! This does not drink like a 9.5% beer!!" is a good thing. To me, if I am committing myself to that much alcohol, I want a beer that slaps me on the face and lets me know it is a big beer!



Yep! I have brewed a few batches using Citra hops. It was just enough to give a little bit of a citrus character. There is a wide range of options for such a simple beer. Be-134 is on my list to try out. Belle Saison just does not hit the same mark as WLP565 for me.

The attenuation of Belgian yeasts can still catch me off guard. I am used to thinking that 1.055 and 1.060 OG beers are fairly sessionable, but when they ferment out close to 1.000, you can quickly end up with over 7%!
Yes indeed! My first Saison ended up as a "Super" at 7.7%, but my target was 6.5% (It won first place in a contest, though!) The Saison in the fermenter right now is at .997 on Day 8 (I used a pound of Turbinado). I'm used to the Be-134 by now, so the OG was 1.049. I'm trying to stay below 7%, because this one is entered in a contest as "standard" strength (under 7%).

I was thinking of trying Citra, so good to know it works. I am working on recipe for a Belgian DIPA. Thinking of using hops that compliment the yeast, such as Amarillo, Jarrylo, and Pacific Jade.

Yeah, certainly props to Duvel for the high ABV and no fusels or anything off. I just don't get a lot of Belgian flavor out of it. There was a comment earlier about trying to tone down the yeast character, and I've seen similar comments (on Maltese Falcons and such). But I'm interested in going the other way, and seeing how much flavor I can get out of the yeast.
 

Mikey B

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I do like Belgian beers and mostly make them. I have attached a couple I like and keep making. I am far enough down the rabbit hole that I quit digging. Chemist by training. I like it. My wife and friends like it so... that is all that matters
 

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shoreman

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The Clone Brews 2nd edition has some good Belgian recipes in it as well. I usually use them as a base and sub out what I have on hand. Just use the good candi syrups, they weren’t around when this book was published.

you can pick it up used for a decent price these days

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joltinjp

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Here in the US it’s getting harder and harder to get your hands on Belgian or Belgian-style beers. Shelton Brothers closing has had an impact on availability and sadly Ommegang isn’t brewing Belgian-styles anymore. I’ve brewed them for many years and am about to bottle a Blonde based off of St. Feuillien Blonde.

Some of my favorite recipes I keep in rotation:

Small Saison - Pils, wheat, rye, crystal20, sugar - noble hops, yeast.

Pale Ale - Pils, wheat, biscuit, sugar - noble hops, La Chouffe yeast

What’s your favorite Belgian-style recipe? Post a photo if you have it.



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I've been brewing Belgians since returning from my 1st trip to Belgium in the early 90's. In fact, a lambic was the very 1st beer my wife ever liked! I've cloned a Tripel Karmeliet that my wife loves so I usually have some in the fridge. I just got a Brewzilla and did a belgian dubbel using a clone recipe of Leffe Brune. It's carbonating now while we're out of town. I'll get to taste it tomorrow! If you love belgians, get Micheal Jacksons's Great Beers of Belgium and Brew Like a Monk. Cheers.
 

Jhedrick83

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Question for those of you who add syrup in the fermented. I've always added it with 10 minutes left in the boil but was going to try adding it in the fermenter and see if I notice a difference. I almost always start my fermentation around 64 and slowly ramp to 70 as the OG drops, at what point do you typically add your syrup? Do you care about the temp difference?
 

SRJHops

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Question for those of you who add syrup in the fermented. I've always added it with 10 minutes left in the boil but was going to try adding it in the fermenter and see if I notice a difference. I almost always start my fermentation around 64 and slowly ramp to 70 as the OG drops, at what point do you typically add your syrup? Do you care about the temp difference?
Please do report back on this if you give it a go. Could I ask what the goal/purpose of adding sugar to the fermenter is? More residual flavor? I'd think it would still all ferment out?

I actually add my sugars and syrups at first wort. The hot wort dissolves it nicely, and I don't have to mess around with stirring during the last 10 and worrying it's sticking to the bottom. I am also usually doing a lot of other stuff at 10, such as yeast nutrients and dropping in the chiller.
 

Jhedrick83

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Please do report back on this if you give it a go. Could I ask what the goal/purpose of adding sugar to the fermenter is? More residual flavor? I'd think it would still all ferment out?

I actually add my sugars and syrups at first wort. The hot wort dissolves it nicely, and I don't have to mess around with stirring during the last 10 and worrying it's sticking to the bottom. I am also usually doing a lot of other stuff at 10, such as yeast nutrients and dropping in the chiller.
I've seen a lot of debate over how flavor may/may not change depending on when you add the syrup and the stress level on the yeast. So, I figure the best way to find out for myself is do it myself.
 

SRJHops

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I've seen a lot of debate over how flavor may/may not change depending on when you add the syrup and the stress level on the yeast. So, I figure the best way to find out for myself is do it myself.
Cool. I'm in the big pitch camp for now, as opposed to stressing the yeast. But I am always interested in experiments and learning new techniques.
 

Dr_Jeff

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One of the great things about Belgian beers is the simplicity of the recipes
Usually minimal hops and most of the unique flavors come from the yeast.

By stressing the yeast one can often times get more of the esters and phenols that make the Belgian beers get those unique flavors.
also the temperature that one chooses to ferment at can bring out those flavor compounds as well.

Anyone that enjoys brewing and drinking Belgian beers should take the time to read Brew Like a Monk.
 

SRJHops

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One of the great things about Belgian beers is the simplicity of the recipes
Usually minimal hops and most of the unique flavors come from the yeast.

By stressing the yeast one can often times get more of the esters and phenols that make the Belgian beers get those unique flavors.
also the temperature that one chooses to ferment at can bring out those flavor compounds as well.

Anyone that enjoys brewing and drinking Belgian beers should take the time to read Brew Like a Monk.
Great book. Love the charts about how different temperatures create different flavors from the various yeast strains.

I'm still fiddling around with temps. Love to hear what others are doing. My current procedure is to pitch at the low end of the yeast strain range, then move mid range on Day 2, then to the top of the range on Day 4. Then finish up and hold 5 degrees over the top of the range (usually mid 80's) until SG/FG is unchanged for 3 days. But there is a lot to experiment with...

From my reading, there are several ways to influence development of the good esters and phenols:

1. Under pitch
2. Over pitch (or healthy pitch, in my thinking)
3. Dial up or down the temp

Given that some Belgian yeasts (looking at you Dupont) tend to stall, seems to me that over pitching is a much safer bet. Then dial up the temp if you want both the phenols and the fruit. At least that's working for me.
 
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shoreman

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I think it helps to stick it out with one yeast for a while if you can. I settled a while ago on Ardennes and could dial in the flavor depending on the time of year. I like to brew with the seasons.

I’ve been using more dry yeast in the past couple years, and Abbaye seems to be one that I’m settling on as a next yeast to figure out.
 

jcav

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I love brewing Belgian doubles, triples, pales/blonde ales. I also love Belgian Wit. I have a few recipes that I really like and I am open to trying new ones as well. I also love to drink Trappist Ales with the proper glass from the brewery. Just something I really get into.

John
 

CascadesBrewer

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1. Under pitch
2. Over pitch (or healthy pitch, in my thinking)
3. Dial up or down the temp
Open fermenting is supposed to increase ester production while reducing fusel alcohols. I tried open fermenting a recent Quad. Honestly, it is one of the best beers I have every drank, but it is hard to say if the open fermentation played any role. I am trying to let the beer get some age. The quad was part of an odd club competition, and it won 1st in both the judges scoring and the open "people's choice".

If you have 5 hours to kill, this playlist from Escarpment Labs is a wealth of information. I have read a lot on yeast, and these videos (and some of the others on their channel) changed the way I think about some aspects of fermentation. https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PL552d9ljGZG20bkvV7pTjFiDzvnbCGFFj

The guys at Escarpment Labs are not fans of the idea of stressing yeast to try to drive flavors. I think I agree. I find that I can use temperature to get the flavors out of yeasts like WLP530 and WLP565. One time I under pitched WLP530, and it stalled after 2 week (though some heat and a swirl got it going again).
 

SRJHops

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Open fermenting is supposed to increase ester production while reducing fusel alcohols. I tried open fermenting a recent Quad. Honestly, it is one of the best beers I have every drank, but it is hard to say if the open fermentation played any role. I am trying to let the beer get some age. The quad was part of an odd club competition, and it won 1st in both the judges scoring and the open "people's choice".

If you have 5 hours to kill, this playlist from Escarpment Labs is a wealth of information. I have read a lot on yeast, and these videos (and some of the others on their channel) changed the way I think about some aspects of fermentation. https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PL552d9ljGZG20bkvV7pTjFiDzvnbCGFFj

The guys at Escarpment Labs are not fans of the idea of stressing yeast to try to drive flavors. I think I agree. I find that I can use temperature to get the flavors out of yeasts like WLP530 and WLP565. One time I under pitched WLP530, and it stalled after 2 week (though some heat and a swirl got it going again).
Very interesting. I would love to know the "science" behind the open fermentation and why it helps. I know it's been done for centuries, but it also seems so counter to what we've been told about sanitation and oxidation and such. Do we even need airlocks?!

Will add those videos to my watchlist - thanks!

How high have you fermented? I've been too chicken to go into the 90's...
 
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